Race 3 of the 944 Challenge was an 9 lap affair held late on Sunday afternoon, and the heavens had opened at Sandown Raceway, as the 14 car field headed out onto the track – with Brad Winter joining Mark Taubitz on the sidelines.
Wipers were ablaze as the lights went out and the field tippy-toed away from the startline, with Cameron Beller getting the initial jump before Lewis-Williams gained traction as they ran down to the first corner, as Lewis-Williams took the lead with Beller in behind him, from Vince Misuraca in third.
Lyndon Watson was fourth ahead of Paul Crocitti who got a fantastic start to leap up to fifth position. Rob Holding was next ahead of Codey West, and the Westaway brothers, Andrew Jackaman, Dick Howe, Jim Gallagher Jim Mitchell and John Vainoras.
Michael Westaway moved himself up to sixth position by the completion of the lap as the drivers danced and slid in the wet conditions, with Tony Westaway in tow to seventh position, Jackman was up to eighth with Holding and Mitchell into tenth. West was eleventh, with Vainoras next from Gallagher and Howe having a spin and dropping to the back of the field.
Lap 2 and dramas for Watson as he gyrated out of fourth position and back to second last, while the Westaway brothers moved up to fourth and fifth, dropping Crocitti back to sixth spot, with Jackman now seventh from Holding, West up to ninth and Howe moving himself up into the top ten. Mitchell was now eleventh from Gallagher with Vainoras in fourteenth.
Lewis-Williams was easing away up front, while Beller had a spin but recovered immediately, although he dropped the spot to Misuraca. Jackman was making great progress and moved up to sixth position ahead of Crocitti who was experiencing issues, while Gallagher moved his way past Mitchell after his moment on the first lap.
A quick spin on lap 4 saw Jackman drop two spots to Holding and West, while mechanical dramas affected both Dick Howe and Paul Crocitti who slowed from the seventh position and was limping back to pit lane, while Dick Howe also pulled in the pits to retire. The marshals were waving the white flag for Paul’s slow car, and upon seeing the two cars in front entering the pits, Gallagher also followed, as did Lyndon Watson and Jim Mitchell behind them, thinking there was a some sort of stoppage with the race as the cars in front pitted!
This elevated John Vainoras up to ninth position while Gallagher, Watson & Mitchell exited the pits and continued on with the race! Gallagher and Watson both made their way past Vainoras on the following lap, with Mitchell passing on lap 6 with the field now quite spread out as a result of the confusion.
That was with the exception of Misuraca and Beller though, as Beller was fighting to make the spot back, although he was ultimately unsuccessful as he crossed the line in third, behind Chris Lewis-Williams who took a commanding 13 second victory from Misuraca in second position.
Fourth across the line was Tony Westaway, who moved up a position on the final lap when Michael slid off the track on the final lap over the top of the esses at the end of the back straight. Fortunately, Michael was able to avoid incurring too much damage, though he was unable to finish the race.
This moved Rob Holding up to a best result so far of fifth position, a great result ahead of Codey West in sixth, and Andrew Jackman in seventh – the last car on the lead lap.
Jim Gallagher was eighth, one lap down, ahead of Lyndon Watson, Jim Mitchell and John Vainoras rounding out the finishers.
So Chris Lewis-Williams took the round win in a strong bounce-back after the disappointment he faced at Winton. Only four weeks until the field would make the trek across the border to Mallala in South Australia for Round 5!